ORIGIN OF CACAO

    Cacao owes its name to Carl Linnaeus, who described it as Theobroma cacao (from greek “theos”=god and “broma”=food). Recent studies of Theobroma cacao genetics seem to show that the plant originated in the Amazon region of Brazil and was distributed by man throughout Central America and Mesoamerica. Nowadays, the key growing areas are in Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon), South and Mesoamerica (Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico) and Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines).

    The cacao plant was primarily brought to the Philippines in the 1700’s when a Spanish galleon from Mexico transported pure Criollo, considered to be one of the best kinds of cacao, from Mesoamerica to the Pacific. Although cacao trees were originally grown in Mexico and Central America, the Philippines became an ideal cultivation grounds for cacao because of its geography as a tropical rainforest located 10-15 degrees from the Earth’s Equator, with the cacao belt located within 20 degrees of the Equator. Today, cacao trees are cultivated throughout equatorial region including the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands of Samoa and New Guinea.

     

     References

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